Today is Tuesday the 18 December, in the 3rd week of Advent.

One Hope Project sing a setting of ‘O Little town of Bethlehem’. As you listen, you might like to prepare your heart to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, beginning by imagining the scene in Bethlehem…

Instead of repeating the reading, with the focus on listening to the words and savouring them, in these last few days before Christmas, the emphasis will be on imagining the scenes described in the readings, in a form of contemplation recommended by St Ignatius, applying our senses and our imagination, to enter into these scenes, to feel what it was like to be there.  Today's reading, then, is from the Gospel of Matthew.

Today we’re going to focus just on that scene of Joseph’s dream, but first, spend a moment on the background to that scene, how Mary was found to be pregnant, the trouble that discovery must have caused, and probably tension between their families.  Just imagine for a moment how Joseph might have been feeling as he lay down to sleep that night.

Now imagine the scene, the scene of Joseph’s dream.  First, concentrate on what you can see.  What is the place like?  What does Joseph look like?  What does the angel look like?  What else can you see?

Now, listen.  Listen to the angel telling Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Perhaps Joseph says something in response.  What can you hear?

And now consider what it is they are doing, Joseph and the angel. The angel carrying the news of the birth of this Saviour; Joseph humbly accepting the role he is given.  The beginnings here, of the unfolding of God’s great saving plan.

Finally, you could spend some moments reflecting on yourself and how you are involved in all of this.  And, if you are moved to, speak to God about what you have learnt or felt or noticed during this time.